Phoenix are a four piece that hail from Versailles, a wealthy suburb of Paris. They released their fourth studio album 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' too much critical acclaim in May, and it seems that they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The Album is produced by Philippe Zdar is a member of Electronic French Duo 'Cassius' and also produced Phoenix's first album 'United'.
'Wolfgang Amadeus Pheonix' opens with 'Litszomania', a term coined by the German romantic literary figure Heinrich Heine to describe the response to Franz Liszt's piano performances. This stange subject for a song puts them apart from their contemporaries. The song is the first single from the album and incorprates elements of dance music with the repeated guitar pattern, synths and keyboards. The song also boasts a beautifully energetic chorus that could bring the sun out in the biggest of storms. '1901' is the most obvious single off the album with dominant keyboards and catchy lyrics such as 'Going Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey' and 'Fold It, Fold It, Fold It, Fold It'. It is a beautifully crafted pop song the likes of which The Strokes have failed to craft in recent years. The song 'Fences' flows beautifully with subtle keyboards, a repeated structure with even more catchy vocal melodies however it's beautiful acoustics are what stand out in the bridge courtesy of the lush production by Zdar. The Albums most ambitous tracks 'Love Like A Sunset Part I & II' come perfectly into the album. 'Part I' builds up like a great dance tunes does to drop, however it drops into a shoegaze wall of sound in which the dance rhythm of the guitar compliments bringing the song to its sun filled climax. 'Part II' then comes in with a repeated rhythm with ambient sounds making you feel like you could be on a beach anywhere in the world with the lyrics enforcing the image the sounds create.
'Acres, Visible Allusion, Where It Starts It Ends, Love Like A Sunset'
The Album then starts what seems it second side with more sunny electronic pop songs. 'Lasso' is the most rock song on the album with the guitars dominant and fitting perfectly. The Lyrics are also wonderfully crafted such as 'Wear Your Real Eyes, No You Don't Realize', these rhymes are beyond the usual half hearted effort that is put into pop songs. 'Rome' is a tune full of Synths with moments that show Phoenix are much more than a normal pop band. The most sun laden song is 'Countdown' full of nostalgia and lyrics such as 'We're Sick For The Big Sun'. The song speeds its tempo up to the chorus where it is once again slowed down, thus creating another great dance tune however the instrumentation is done so differently the similarities to the other pop dance tunes on the album are gone. 'Girlfriend' with its simple conventional pop song name has a a much darker subject of death however the guitars and synths follow a similar pattern to that of the other songs, its conventional structure also makes this song seem a bit filler. The Album ends with 'Armistice' which keeps in with the subjects of the album and also also has great guitar rhythms and bass lines. The song ends with the lyrics 'For Lovers In A Rush, For Lovers Always' keeping in with the romanticism of the album and also the audience for the music.
'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' re-writes the art of the alternative pop music brining in elements of rock, dance, shoegaze but keeping the sense of the album as a whole and not a collection of different songs. The songs have an art to them, unlike their contempories, there songs have been crafted with thought put into every element. Lyrically it is beautiful with great lyrics that evoke nostalgia, happiness and sadness with them perfectly tying in with the music. The Album is perfect for the summer making you want to dance, fall in love and even feel nostalgia for a sunset you have never seen.
By Richard King